Our Family Christmas Tree
Every year as I walk through the stores, I admire all of the beautifully decorated Christmas trees. I always enjoy looking at the themed trees and all the different ornaments that together make one beautiful presentation. Once or twice I have been tempted to purchase all new matching ornaments and make that picture perfect Christmas tree, but then I think about why I would never actually succumb to that temptation.
Each year my husband totes the tree and boxes of ornaments from the attic. He tenderly puts the 25 year old tree together and threads the strings of lights through it. Then it is my turn.
Decorating our tree each year is a walk down memory lane. Every ornament, and I do mean every ornament we hang, has a story.
So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, sit back and relax and let me tell you some their stories.
Handmade Ornament by Mom on My Christmas Tree
I have no memory of a Christmas tree that was not adorned with this cherished bell ornament.
When I was a little girl, my mother made one of these bells for every member of our family. When I married and started decorating our little tree, my mother gave me my bell and she made another one for my husband. She has since made one for each of our children too.
The Year of the Missing Ornaments
Several years ago now, my daughter brought a friend home from college to spend Christmas with our family. Apparently, she had been telling her friend all about the wonderful, magical Christmas that we always shared. On the trip home, she regaled her friend with tales about the fabulous food which always included pumpkin chiffon pie, coconut cake and homemade divinity. She told about the mountain of gifts always waiting under the tree and the most important ornaments adorning the tree. I had no idea these things were so important to her!
Since our daughter and son were both so busy with school activities and with my husband working extra long hours, I found myself at home alone a lot that year. When it came time to decorate, I wondered for whom I was decorating. I guessed me and the dogs, so I took a lot of shortcuts. One of my shortcuts was simply not putting out all of the decorations that covered every available tabletop and putting about half of the regular ornaments on the tree.
Everything still looked festive and fine until the moment my daughter and her guest stepped through the door. They set down their bags and immediately went to the tree. Oh, yes, the pile of gifts was there, but as she looked for certain ornaments that she wanted to show her friend, it became increasingly obvious that I was about to be found out. Yikes! I didn’t think anyone would notice.
The Search for Those Special Ornaments
Well, let me tell you, I was definitely wrong! She noticed alright. My first real concern came when she called out “Hey Mom, where is the Cratchet family”. I didn’t even know she liked that Mickey Mouse family! She showed off her favorite Belvedere Reindeer. Thankfully I have always known that was her favorite ornament, so he was never on the cutting board. Then she said, “Wait, where is my carousel tiger”? I held my breath. I couldn’t remember if he had made the cut or not. What had I been thinking? Did I really think my family wouldn’t notice some of the ornaments missing?
I distracted them, and the tree search, by asking my daughter to show her guest to her room and suggesting they wash up for dinner. Then, I quickly went into action. It was necessary for me to do something I never thought I would do. I ventured into the attic alone with a flashlight. I searched for the missing mouse family and the tiger. Eureka! I found them quickly enough, climbed out of the dark attic and ran back to the tree. Oh, yeah, I was singing Christmas carols when they returned. After dinner, I nonchalantly pointed out the ornaments she had been looking for earlier. I smiled like the Grinch who stole Christmas when she said “Oh, I don’t know how I missed those earlier”.
The Bob Cratchet Family
Caught Twice in One Day
When my son came home later that evening, he looked at the tree in passing. Then he stopped and looked at it carefully. “Where is my spider?” Ok, there was no way around that one. My “photographic memory” son knew what he had seen and what he had not seen and he didn’t have a friend to distract him. No doubt, I was 15 different shades of red when I meekly said “the spider was waiting for you to put him on the tree.”
Back to the attic, but this time I didn’t have to go alone. We retrieved the spider and my son placed him on the tree. It is now a tradition. Every year, when every other ornament is on the tree, my son places the spider on the tree in its prominent place.
While I still cut back on the tabletop decorations, I never leave off an ornament. After all, the children are watching!
The Spider on My Christmas Tree
It is faded and the silver is even rubbed off in a few spots, but our tree would not be finished without it.
It always waits to be placed on the tree by my son when he gets home for Christmas.
A Gift from My Best Friend on My Christmas Tree
Good friends from our past are also represented on our Christmas tree each year. My best friend made these ornaments for me when my children were very young. She knew how they liked to play with the Christmas tree ornaments and she wanted them to have some they could hold without risk of breaking.
I still place them on the bottom level of the tree every year, just like that first year. Now, of course, instead of reaching up, they would have to lean down to play with them.
Every year I place these ornaments on the tree in remembrance of my grandmother who gave me one each year for Christmas.
I usually place them toward the back so they are not in danger of being knocked off and broken.
It would be impossible for me to choose a favorite from this group.
Everyone Loves Gumby & Pokey!
Dad’s Raccoons on My Christmas Tree
Any time I see raccoons, I think of my father. My dad has a backyard full of wildlife and every night he feeds them. Not only that, they know him. When he goes out with the food, the raccoons come out to see him. Some of them know him so well he can pat their heads like you would a dog.
He also feeds a ton of birds, a few opossums and a couple of chipmunks too, but it is the raccoons who claim him as their father.
This ornament was a gift from my dad and is definitely a family favorite.
“Why is this Ornament on Our Tree?”
Aside from being the beloved Peter Rabbit, this ornament actually has a special memory behind the choice.
When our son was in grade school he had to wear a tie for their Christmas program. Well, we were definitely in trouble. My husband was at work and neither of us knew how to tie a tie.
I looked up instructions on the internet. Gratefully, there were pictures, and after a couple of tries, we had his tie tied.
When I spotted this ornament in the store, I had to have it.
I think they made it just for us!
Handmade Decorations Include Memories of a Great Day!
A Really Fun Day!
Over a decade ago, my mother, my daughter, and I sat at the kitchen table and made several of these ornaments.
I honestly can’t say why this is one of my favorite ornaments. He was just a simple bear in an assortment of Christmas ornaments that my sister bought one year. I spotted that little bear and immediately loved him, so she gave him to me.
Perhaps it is simply because it is a bear and I love bears. Perhaps it is because it was a gift from my sister, or perhaps it is because it reminds me of one of my mother’s childhood toys.
I don’t know exactly why, but I know my little bear is one of my favorite ornaments.
I considered tying a bow around his neck, but decided he didn’t need any extra ornamentation. So, my bear remains bare and beautiful on my Christmas tree year after year.
When our children were little, they loved the video The Tale of the Bunny Picnic.
My husband memorized the story of the Giant Hedgehog and he frequently re-told it to our children. As a result, we all started referring to him as the Giant Hedgehog.
Thus, every time we find a hedgehog ornament, we buy it for him. Regardless of the date, this ornament is timeless in our home.
A Story that Simply Must be Told
When we were growing up, my mother bought most of the family gifts. This gift is special because my oldest brother picked it out for me. I know for sure he picked it out and bought it because he no longer lived in the same house or even the same state as my mother, and it was definitely his signature on the package.
I still giggle every year as I hang this ornament, and I think about my 6′ 4″ tall single brother standing in line at the local drug store purchasing a doll ornament for his youngest sister.
The Most Precious Ornaments are the Ones that were Made by Our Children when they were little!
A Very Special Gift on My Christmas Tree
I have 5 siblings and each time one of them married, the dynamics of our family changed drastically.
As everybody knows, there is no guarantee that new members of the family will get along with everyone.
When my youngest brother married, his wife just seemed to fit into our family. They have now been married for over 20 years, but if you don’t already know, you probably could not tell which one was born into the family by the way we act.
This was a gift many years ago from my youngest brother and his thoughtful wife.
An Angel Overlooks All of our Ornaments on our Christmas Tree
Eight or nine years ago, my parents, my husband, my son and I went to Branson, MO to hear Shoji Tabuchi play. We had heard he was an outstanding violinist and we were not disappointed. His show was extremely entertaining.
During the intermission, we went out to the gift shop in the theater. I browsed around, not really looking for anything and not really wishing to purchase anything. I just needed to stretch my legs a bit, but when I spotted this gorgeous Treetop Angel, I thought I had never seen a more beautiful tree topper. When I showed it to my son, he was sweet but didn’t appear too interested. When intermission was over, we went back to our seats. The angel was long since forgotten, or so I thought.
I have no idea how he did it or when he did it, but my son purchased the angel for me and gave it to me when we got back home. Every year since, she has topped our tree and reminds me of a wonderful vacation, a very special gift, and a very special Christmas message.
So, you see, every ornament has a story from our past. It is a wonderful walk down memory lane each year as I decorate our family tree.
Some years it is a little harder to work on our tree. The year after my grandmother died was especially difficult, but I wouldn’t take anything for the years that I had to spend with her or the ornaments she gave to me that continue to remind me of our time together.
Oh, well, it might not be a decorator’s tree, but it definitely has a theme: Family
Now, that is my idea of a picture perfect tree!
Just Had to Share this Totally Awesome Picture!
I have no idea what the camera was set on to get this effect.
Finding Older Ornaments on the Secondary Market
I know we sometimes see photos of ornaments in articles like this one that make us wish we owned a certain ornament. The ornaments in this article are no longer readily available in stores, but sometimes we can find them on eBay.